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2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Interior Review

Scorecard

Interior: 6.8

 The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid boasts a cleanly styled interior with quality materials and lots of standard tech features. The first- and second-row seats are comfortable and spacious, but the third row is cramped.

  • "Whether you choose the standard Highlander or the Hybrid, you’re getting the same interior experience, which is a pleasant one. The seats are comfortable, and there aren’t any huge swaths of hard plastics, even in lower trims." -- Autoblog
  • "The third row has slightly more room than the outgoing model, but still less than the Honda Pilot. It remains best for kids." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "All cockpits are also equipped with an array of easy-to-use hard buttons to control frequent functions such as climate and stereo, and it's also simple to turn on and off the various aspects of Toyota's standard Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver's aides.” -- Automobile Magazine

Seating

The Highlander Hybrid is a three-row SUV with eight seats. A seven-seat layout is available by swapping the second-row bench seat for a pair of captain’s chairs.

The first- and second-row seats are nicely padded and provide ample space for adults to stretch out comfortably. However, the third row is very cramped and has an awkward seating position. It’s best reserved for smaller kids on short trips.

Cloth upholstery is standard. Synthetic leather upholstery, genuine leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, rear sunshades, and a heated steering wheel are available.

For securing child safety seats, the Highlander Hybrid has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the second-row outboard seats, as well as single tether anchors for the second- and third-row middle seats. The anchors are easy to find and use and can’t be confused with other hardware.

  • "We found the seats – even the cloth ones in lower models – comfortable, while the stitched-leather interior of the Platinum Highlander could practically pass for a Lexus." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Its front seats are nicely sculpted for good side and lumbar support, as are the spacious second row's, which also have a useful amount of slide-and-recline adjustability. … The third row, however, is no larger than before, is as flat as a board, and, while tolerable for short jaunts, is too small for adults to access and be comfortable in." -- Car and Driver
  • "Unfortunately, the third row isn't any roomier than before. Headroom and legroom are both at a premium, even though the second row can slide forward a bit more than last year. The third row is strictly kids-only, and even if you do persuade adults to climb into the back, there's not enough shoulder room to sit three-across. The seat bottom is just off the ground, and most passengers will find their knees at chin level." -- Edmunds

Interior Features

The Highlander Hybrid is packed with standard features. These include an infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, four USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, six speakers, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Tri-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, and Driver Easy Speak (an in-car intercom system) are also standard.

The touch screen has user-friendly menus and crisp graphics, and it responds quickly to inputs. It also benefits from physical buttons and knobs for the audio and climate controls, which are easy to adjust while driving.

Available features include a 12.3-inch touch screen, wireless device charging, navigation, and an 11-speaker stereo.

The Highlander Hybrid is also equipped with many standard safety features. These include a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. Cyclist and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, road sign detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights are also standard.

Available driver assistance features include a head-up display, front and rear parking sensors, hands-free parallel park assist, a surround-view parking camera system, and adaptive pivoting headlights.

See 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid specs »

  • "Up front, the new Highlander remains the epitome of easy operation. Whether you go with the standard 8-inch touchscreen or the new 12.3-inch display, you won’t need a degree in software engineering to use it. Controls for audio, climate and other functions are similarly easy." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Current Highlander owners will be delighted with how crisply and relatively logically all of the new readouts render information, as well as with the numerous redundant hard buttons on the center stack and console." -- Car and Driver
  • "Still, like many supersized dashboard touchscreens, the Highlander’s falls short of full potential. Toyota confines displays like CarPlay or the onboard navigation map to just two-thirds of the screen, with the remainder showing one of several status menus. Why the thing you want to focus on can’t take the whole screen baffles me." -- Cars.com

Cargo

The Highlander Hybrid has 16 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats, 48.4 cubic feet with these seats folded, and 84.3 cubic feet with all rear seats folded. A power liftgate is standard, and a hands-free power liftgate is available.

This Toyota’s cargo area isn’t as big as some of its midsize SUV rivals, but it is larger than what most hybrid and electric SUVs offer.

  • "The extra room increases the 2020 Highlander's carrying capacity to 16 cubes, which is more competitive though still far off from leaders in the segment." -- Edmunds
  • "More important, at least to Toyota's focus groups, is that the increase in the Highlander's length has yielded a decent 16 cubic feet of cargo space with the third row raised—2 cubic feet more than before. Stow the third row, and it grows to 48 cubic feet and 84 cubes with the second row folded flat. Ikea, here we come." -- Car and Driver
  • "Essentially, these gains make the Highlander more competitive and less of an outlier – it's still less spacious than many three-row crossovers, though, even if the gap has shrunk." -- Autoblog 
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2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

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